15 Jun Blessed Beginnings At Lassen
As I am writing this, I will have finished my very first week being an LHIP intern at Lassen Volcanic National Park. It’s dark outside, and I am the only one who’s here at the employee lounge but I never have felt so content in my life.
The road to Lassen was quite…interesting. With the pandemic, I had a fear that I might not arrive at the park and not work in the outdoors of Northern California and instead work from my home back at Minnesota. Thankfully, due to my internship being focused on the wilderness of Lassen Volcanic National Park, I was able to travel. I left my home state at 7am, then took a 3 hour flight to Phoenix, Arizona. Then from Arizona, I flew and landed in Reno at around 11am. Once at Reno, I finally met up with my supervisor, Michael. Upon meeting Michael, I felt an instant sense of relief. During my time flying, I was plagued with anxiety and fear about my internship and how much things will change due to COVID-19. Not only that, I was anxious about the new people I would come to meet and if they were at all friendly. But as he welcomed me and helped me with my bags, I felt less of an employee arriving at a job and more of a family member coming back home. From there, it took almost 3 hours to arrive at the park with an additional stop at a grocery store. Along the trip he exchanged stories about his workplace, the people I would meet and the wilderness that would become my second office. I also saw the landscapes changing and forming from hilly, plain deserts to high mountains with trees that seemed to reach the skies. As a person who have only lived in the bustling city Cancun and lived in the flat-ish lands of Minnesota, I was blown away by the beautiful scenery.
Upon arriving to the headquarters, I realized that this place wasn’t a high strung area with guards. But rather, a small welcoming community of park workers and rangers that accepted a new person into their home. I even got a bag of fresh, garden grown vegetables as a form of welcome. Settling in was going to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.
With the first few days, I was welcomed into the Resource Management office and its workers, which all of them were very nice and welcoming. I even met other interns, all of them coming from different states to work here at Lassen. I also got treated to tour the park via the park highway that runs through Lassen. Words cannot describe the sheer beauty of the park. Seeing the various mountain peaks and its accompanying valleys is something that you must see for yourself. The park has many different geographical features, to a cinder cone volcano to crystal clear lakes, this park is unparalleled in its diversity and beauty. I am absolutely blessed that I have this opportunity to work with the wilderness of this park and see all of these features with my own eyes.
Near the end of the week, I was helping out with the vegetation crew to pull out cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) in Terminal Geyser at the park. To reach there, we hiked through Warner Valley and up by the side of a mountain in order to reach the geyser where I was out of breath, but happy. Though it was just a trip to pull out some invasive plants, it quickly became a bonding experience where we ate lunch and laughed at jokes and talked about our favorite foods. And at that moment where we were sitting and talking, I looked over the wooded area and the geyser and took in everything that surrounded me. The fact that I was here at Lassen Volcanic National Park, the fact that I have already made friends and the fact that I will spend the rest of my summer with the beautiful outdoors made me feel at peace. I am so grateful to be given this opportunity by LHIP and having this chance to work with amazing people at an amazing place. I am looking forward for the upcoming weeks and work with Michael on his wilderness projects.